“An oil and gas body removing the words ‘oil and gas’ from its own name is the very epitome of greenwashing,” says Caroline Lucas.
The Oil and Gas Authority has prompted incredulity and derision by rebranding to remove any mention of fossil fuels from its name.
The UK regulator announced on Monday it would now be known as the North Sea Transition Authority, a change it said reflected its “expanding role” in the country’s energy sector.
But climate campaigners denounced the move as “meaningless” and said it would “fool no one”.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said rebrand was “the very epitome of greenwashing” and that as much as the authority talked up transition its intentions were clearly “to wring every last drop of oil and gas out of the North Sea, to the detriment of our climate”.
“Unless that changes, this name change will fool no-one," elle a ajouté.
Danny Gross, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said “no amount” of rebranding could make the authority greener.
“Not when its central purpose is to extract every profitable drop of oil and gas from UK waters," il ajouta.
“Ensuring everyone can access affordable energy requires a genuine transition away from expensive fossil fuels to cheap renewables.
“That’s why gestures like this are entirely meaningless.”
Announcing its new name Monday, the authority said last year it revised its strategy to put net zero “at the heart” of its work alongside stewarding production. The North Sea Transition Deal between the government and industry last March set out an ambitious programme for the path to net zero and the “crucial” role the UK’s oil and gas industry should play, il a ajouté.
“The new name embraces this new context and our expanding role in energy transition,” the authority said in a statement. “Including as the carbon storage licence and permitting authority, monitoring of emissions, assessing a net zero test for new developments, and stewarding domestic production.”
But Heather Plumpton, policy analyst at Green Alliance said if the North Sea Transition Authority’s first decision was to rubber-stamp more fossil fuels that will be produced in a decade’s time, the rebrand would be “meaningless.”
“If this is a genuine change of direction, a push for more wind power in the North Sea is needed, not more dirty fossil fuels," elle a dit.
The name change comes as Boris Johnson’s government is due to announce an energy security and supply strategy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oil and gas prices have soared following the invasion exacerbating a broader cost of living crisis in Britain.
Mr Johnson’s strategy is expected to increase extraction of gas and oil from the North Sea, as well as mapping out how the UK can replace Russian fossil fuels with alternative supplies, nuclear and renewables.
But Ms Plumpton said more extraction in the North Sea would not help reduce bills for households or bolster energy security.
Other limate activists and energy analysts have called for the government to accelerate its transition to renewables and better insulate British buildings to help ease the squeeze on household budgets and to ensure long-term energy resilience, rather than investing in domestic fossil fuels.
“Changing its name doesn’t obscure the fact that this organisation continues to stand in the way of the UK’s transition to a cheaper, cleaner energy supply,” said Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, a group that supports the movement for a just and fossil fuel-free UK. “We won’t ever be able to make the shift to cheaper renewables and more efficiency while the government keeps signing off new fields and listening to the oil and gas industry, instead of the public.”
Philip Evans, oil and gas transition campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said that while the authority may have changed its name, it had not changed its core aim.
Cette, il a dit, was “to squeeze as much ‘profitable’ oil and gas out of the North Sea as possible, while handing fossil fuel giants generous tax breaks”.
“This new name change should be a sign of new thinking," il a dit. “But real transition means renewables, grid upgrades, cutting home energy waste, and training up a clean energy workforce.”
The North Sea Transition Authority said in its statement that while the role of oil and gas would reduce over the coming years, it currently provided around 75 percent of the UK’s energy needs and will remain an “essential part” of the energy mix for some time. Dans 2020, gas made up around 42 percent and oil some 31 percent of overall inland energy consumption, selon government data.
Andy Samuel, North Sea Transition Authority chief executive, said in a statement to L'indépendant: “The NSTA will continue to play a vital role in ensuring energy security as the body which stewards the oil and gas industry, both on and offshore, with energy transition issues already playing a significant and increasing role in our day-to-day activities.”